The chairman of milk co-op Dairy Farmers of Britain has attacked the UK dairy sector’s growing reliance on relatively few ultra-modern super dairies supplying the multiple retailers.

Rob Knight said industry rationalisation was needed, but the flexibility to service rapidly changing markets was just as important as improving processing efficiency.

Retaining sufficient processing capacity to take advantage of the huge demand for local food was vital, he added.

Fast on your feet

“In modern consumer marketing being fast on one’s feet is as important as ensuring the lowest cost of goods,” Mr Knight told DFB members recently.

“Today’s massive ultra-modern dairies are highly efficient but can be quite inflexible. By contrast, regional dairies are flexible enough to meet the changing demands of both customers and consumers.”

Distance

Concentrating milk processing at a small number of high-volume sites meant milk was being trucked further distances, said Mr Knight.

“Our experience shows well-planned modernisation can deliver every bit as high a standard of hygiene and service, together with the ability to meet the different needs of a wide range of customers far more effectively and consistently,” he said.